Friday, 13 November 2015

My Best Ever Mince Pies

I know it's a bold statement but I honestly believe these are the best ever mince pies!
This post contains affiliate links
It seems mince pies might be a Christmas delight peculiar to the UK, and maybe one or two other countries around the world. If you have them where you are please let me know in the comments below. Mr Google is a bit vague, lots of information about the history of mince pies but very little about who actually has them.

Some mince pie facts:
  • Here in the UK, Christmas is not Christmas without mince pies, it just isn't!
  • They appear in the supermarkets round about October time and get everyone in a "too soon for Christmas" tizzy.
  • Everyone says "This is my first mince pie this year" when they have their first of the season (forgetting all the ones they ate up in January!) 
  • WAY back in the day they contained meat but no more - they are a mix of dried fruit, fat and alcohol in a pastry case - sounds good huh!
  • The home made ones are so much better then the shop ones (too much of a weird gloopy stuff inside and not enough fruit)
  • When a friend pops round for a cuppa in December it's the law that you offer them a mince pies (well, maybe I made that one up but it's almost/should be the law!)
  • Mince pies (shortened to minces) is Cockney rhyming slang for eyes
  • They can be served hot or cold, as a pudding or dessert or as a snack instead of a biscuit/cookie
  • You can have them on their own or with cream or ice cream. Then on Christmas Day only (ok, maybe Boxing Day too if you have leftovers) with Brandy Butter or Brandy cream
  • At some point every one has bought a box of posh mince pies, taken them out of their foil cases, sprinkled them with icing sugar and tried to pass them off as home made!
This is the recipe I've always used, it's a rich, sweet pastry and it's just so much better than regular shortcrust for mince pies.
My mum used to make her own mincemeat too, I have never tried so I use the shop bought stuff. I have included her recipe here though, in case you can't get it ready made in the shops where you are.


A "no frills" printable version of this recipe is here

Best Ever Mince pies

Makes 18 basic mince pies (or 24 if half have lids and half don't *)

1 jar of mincemeat (I used Robinsons and used half of a 411g jar)
A tablespoon of Brandy (optional)
9oz (255g, 2 1/2 cups) plain flour
6oz (170g, 3/4 cup) baking margarine or butter
2oz (55g, 1/3 cup) caster sugar
1 egg yolk (If you're in the UK always look for eggs with the British Lion Eggs quality mark)
2 teaspoons cold water
icing sugar to serve (optional)
  • Sieve the flour into a bowl, add the chopped up margarine or butter
  • Rub in
  • In a jug, place the egg yolk, sugar and water & mix with a knife
  • Pour this mix into the flour/fat mix and stir with the knife until mixed
  • Squeeze together with your hands then turn out onto a lightly floured surface
  • Kneed lightly until smooth then wrap in cling film and pop in the fridge for 1/2 hour
  • Heat the oven to 180 c, 350 f, gas 4
  • Cut the pastry in half and roll out one half to about 4mm (3/16")
  • Cut out as many circles (mine are 6.5cm, 2.5" that's my largest pastry cutter!) as you can and press them lightly into a muffin tray
  • Stir the brandy into the mincemeat if using
  • Put a teaspoon of mincemeat on each pastry base. Don't overfill or it will go everywhere but don't be mean and underfill either! The photo above shows a good balance between the two
  • Pop the scrappy bits of pastry to one side and roll out the other half of the pastry
  • Cut slightly smaller circles (mine are 6cm, 2.25") this time
  • Pop a splash or two of cold water in a dish. Wet your finger with the water and run it all round the end of the pastry circle, then pop it onto the base and press lightly down to seal the edges
  • Repeat for all the bases you have so far
  • Squeeze all the scrappy leftover bits of pastry together, knead lightly and roll out again
  • Continue cutting circles and making pies until you either have 18 lidded pies or 12 lidded pies and 12 open ones*.
  • Take a pair of kitchen scissors and make 2 snips in the lids. Some people stab holes with a fork or sharp knife, my mum always snipped with scissors so that's what I do.
  • Bake in the oven for 15 - 20 mins until light golden brown
  • Cool on a wire rack
  • Dust with icing sugar to serve - or not, either is fine!
If you make some pies without lids you can then top them with a thin layer of marzipan, or fondant icing or a criss cross drizzle of glace icing. Traditionally mince pies have lids but I usually do some open pies as it just makes your pastry go further.


This rich sweet pastry is also perfect for jam tarts.

Adding egg to a shortcrust style pastry like this is a little bit different so before taking a trayful to a party or something you might want to consider if anyone has an egg allergy. If you are concerned, there is some really useful information about egg allergy from British Lion Eggs.
If you are taking home made mince pies to a Christmas party maybe just add a label "contains gluten, eggs" etc, especially if people are not familiar with mince pies. If you choose a mincemeat with alcohol or add the brandy like I do guests might like to know that too!
I hope you try them, they really are good - Best Ever - honestly!
You might also be interested in:
My Mum's Chocolate Cake Recipe
My Mum's Chocolate Cake Recipe
Christmas Chocolate Buttons
Christmas Chocolate Buttons
Chocolate Fudge Dip
Chocolate Fudge Dip
My Nan's Shortbread Recipe
My Nan's Shortbread Recipe
I'll be linking up at all these great link parties, check them out!
Julia Nyanyo
Julia Nyanyo

Hello, I'm Julie. I love making things and this is where I share my enthusiasm.

12 comments:

  1. omg im so hungry looking at all that! thanks for sharing think will attempt to bake one this year :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jenny, I hope you get chance to give it a try, it really is delicious.

      Delete
  2. I live in Ottawa, Canada and mince pies are my favourite Christmas treat. I would eat them all year if they weren't so rich. I make my own filling and this is one of the best tasting recipes I have ever tried. The butter used instead of suet makes all the difference. Cheers. http://foodanddrink.ca/lcbo-ear/RecipeController?language=EN&recipeType=1&action=recipe&recipeID=1395

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the recipe and tip Cathy, good to know you enjoy mince pies in Canada too!

      Delete
  3. I love mince pies and normally make my mincemeat in September, that way allows all the brandy, oops meant orange juice, lol to soak into the fruit and spices. Nothing better than the smell of handmade mince pies with delicious buttery pastry. Clotted cream is good as is Cointreau cream, yumm! You have now made my mouth water and agree have to offer guests warm mincepies with a cup of coffee, or something stronger.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All good mincemeat has brandy doesn't it Carolee? Have you got yours done in time this year?

      Delete
  4. How interesting! I think my great-grandpa bought a mince meat pie for a family dinner once, but I am pretty sure I have not had it as an adult. I really should seek one out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are good, honestly! (if they are made properly of course) I hope you get to try one sometime.

      Delete
  5. I'm in midwestern US. My Gandmother used to make mince pies for the holidays along with several others - she was quite a baker. The adults seem to love them, but we mostly went for the fruit pies. The mince pie tradition disappeared after my Grandmother passed away. Thank you for sharing your recipe with us at Snickerdoodle Sunday! I'm pinning :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting Laurie, thanks. Often younger kids are not keen on them here either, though I can't remember a time when I didn't like them!

      Delete
  6. I'm in the Southern US, and although I've heard of mince meat pies, I've never had one. In fact the name was off putting to me, until after reading your description. Yum! My daughter has food allergies, but I have to make these for my husband and I just to try them out, and make her something else! Thanks for sharing with us at the #WednesdayShowcaseParty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Joanna, I guess it's that word meat in a sweet thing - very misleading!
      You have to be so careful with food allergies, so many different things people can be allergic too. There does seem to be lots of readily available alternative nowadays though, I guess that helps a little. I hope you do try (and like) them.

      Delete

I love to hear your thoughts/comments, thank you for taking the time.